Challenge, History, Just for fun

Pennsylvania’s William Penn, a Holy Experiment

William Penn landed in America in 1682 near what is known today as New Castle, Delaware. Penn belonged to a society called the Quakers. His faith was persecuted in England and he was coming to America to establish a new colony that he contended would be a “Holy experiment.” That experiment was a place where there was no established denomination or church.

 

Pennsylvania would be a safe, free of persecution, place for Quakers and other oppressed faiths from all across Europe. This new colony also attracted German-speaking Amish and Mennonite who came to be known as the “Pennsylvania Dutch.” The first city Penn would establish would be named Philadelphia–Greek for the city of “brotherly love.”

 

This experiment was said to be a great success as many differing denominations of Christians lived together in peace. Further, in Penn’s colony, there would be absolutely no ill treatment of the native Americans as Penn insisted they would be dealt with fairly and honorably.

 

Penn died in 1718, but many of his desires continue in this state. William Penn was the father of Pennsylvania, known as the Keystone State which means “Penn’s Woodland.” Penn’s Woods claims 63,200 farms covering nearly eight million acres. These woods still boast of over two million acres of dedicated state forest land.

 

Pennsylvania is rich in natural resources. Today its Marcellas shale gas fields are said to have enough natural gas to supply every major city of the U.S. for 200 years. Oil was first discovered in this state and coal has been a rich resource of energy in the past.

 

The soil of Pennsylvania is blessed. In the county I live in, Lancaster, one of 67 counties, there is a total of 609,181 acres and 439,481 of those acres are presently farmland. That farmland produces $469 million dollars’ worth of poultry and eggs, $425 million dollars’ worth of milk and $159 million dollars’ worth of beef cattle. The land also produces abundant crops of corn, forage, soybeans, wheat and other vital animal and human food supply.

 

William Penn, thank you for your “Holy experiment” as so many of us here in Pennsylvania, across America and the world enjoy the fruit of your faith and labor. Thank you for the righteous seeds planted of which we now reap the benefit. What difference are you called by God to make in your world today? What seeds are you called to plant so that a harvest of righteousness is reaped in the years ahead?

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Challenge, Encouragement, Just for fun

Are There More Grains of Sand or More Stars?

What are you thinking? Are there more grains of sand on every beach, in every desert or are there more stars in the heavens?

The University of Hawaii wanted to find the answer to how may grains of sand are actually on the earth today. They counted those grains found within a teaspoonful and then multiplied that by all the beaches and deserts in the world. The number? Their very rough guess was seven quintillion, five hundred quadrillion grains.

When you look into the heavens you can possibly see several thousand stars. But the Hubble telescope can count even distant galaxies of stars. Due to this it is estimated as of 2003 there are 70 thousand million, million, million stars that are observable within the universe. This means there are multiple stars for every grain of sand.*

Now check this out: “How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand…” (Psalms 139: 17, 18) And this: “He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” (Psalms 147:4)

I am not sure if that gives you goose bumps but it does me. God’s thoughts about me and you outnumber the grains of sand! And God, the creator of each and every star has named them all. I am overwhelmed by the thought of His love, His thoughts toward me. I am so secure in that love and His thoughts toward me. 

Thank you, heavenly Father, for your love and thoughts that outnumber the grains of sand and the stars in the heavens for mankind who You love with an everlasting love!

*WITF Krulwich Wonders, David Blatner author of the book Spectrums.

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Challenge, Encouragement, Issues of the Day, Just for fun

How to Know You’re Aging Well

I love getting older. I am no longer in my mid-sixties, but have crossed that line. People initiate conversation with “older” people. That’s nice. Older individuals can get away with more because, well…they’re older. When I do something stupid, there seems to be more grace offered since I am older. 

But with age comes wisdom. The book of Proverbs states, “…the gray hair of experience is the spender of the old.” (20:29) Splendor sure sounds positive! Here are four observations that I have made about life at this age. I hope they give you something to look forward to.

  1. You will recognize a greater level of self-awareness. The older I become, the less I obsess about myself (disappearing hair, style, shaving, etc.) and find more joy in being other-centered. 
  2. You require less control. I find that I more readily admit that I don’t know something and feel okay about it. I am no longer proving myself to others.
  3. We walk in a deeper level of trust with God and realize we don’t always need to know what He’s up to or why He’s taking so long with His answer. I am more settled, more relaxed and more able to wait with a deeper level of patience.
  4. We recognize the need for a greater level of separation or detachment. We work, rest and play smarter. Detachment is no longer avoiding something that I should be doing. Detaching is recognized as healthy.

There you have it; four simple observations. Oh, and one more verse from wise King Solomon, “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life.” (16:31)

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Challenge, Issues of the Day, Just for fun

If You Would Have Purchased Apple Stock Instead

Most people love their Apple products. What would your bank account look like if rather than purchasing the new Apple product, you would have bought their stock instead–dollar for dollar? Well, in an article written by Yaron Yitschak found in the Plugged newsletter, this is what you would have realized:

The first iPad arrived April 3, 2010 and cost $499.00, but if you would have purchased the same amount of stock at that time you would have $3,000.00, a 500 percent profit. 

The first iPhone came out June 29, 2007, cost $499.00 and your profit today would be $5,700.00.

The MacBook arrived in 2006. If instead you bought $1,099.00 in stock you would have accumulated $22,500.00. A 2,000 percent increase.

The first Mac Mini came out in 2005 and cost $499.00. Your stock worth today would be $19, 700.

The iPod debuted October 2001, cost $399.00 and with a 14,500 percent increase your profit today would be $58,000. But wait…

One more. The first Macintosh computer was released on January 24, 1984 and the base model cost $2,495.00. If you would have rather opted to purchase Apple stock verses the computer you would have gained 38, 500 percent on your money and be sitting on $960,000.

Wow, that sure made me think. Unfortunately, I never had that kind of insight. While raising a family in the 80’s, there was no possible way I would have shelled out $2,495.00 for any stock to have possibly lost it all. But, I have been told repeatedly that if you like a certain product or company and think others will as well (think Amazon), then purchase a small amount of stock as an investment, e.g., 100 or 500 dollars. 

There is a Proverb that says, “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.” When we expect an instant return on our money without any labor invested, we are gambling. Some say that investing in the stock market is like gambling, but publicly traded companies are owned by their investors, you and me. Your retirement account (IRA, 401K) more than likely has a percentage of your funds invested in stock.

What to do with the gain realized? There is another Proverb for that question, “A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

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Challenge, Encouragement, Issues of the Day, Just for fun, Parents

Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle or Santa Claus?

The story of Santa Claus goes back to the 3rd century. A patron saint, a monk named Saint Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, modern day Turkey. He was known as the protector of children. The name we use today, Santa Claus, was derived from the Dutch nickname of Sinter Klaas.

 

In 1881 artist Thomas Nast, drew what we recognize as our modern-day Santa: a plump, cheery and white bearded man. It was Nast who provided Santa’s bright red suit and North Pole workshop with elves and a wife, Mrs. Claus. Prior to this image, he was often depicted as a gaunt or scary-looking man.

 

In the 1890’s the Salvation Army began to use this image by dressing their donation collectors in Santa Claus suits. But where this image received a huge boost was from none other than Coca Cola.

 

Santa has been featured in Coke ads since the 1920’s and the image used was close to Nast’s original art work. From 1931 to 1964 Coca-Cola ads showed Santa delivering toys, reading his scroll-styled lists and always enjoying a Coke.

 

While Santa Claus and his imagery are fun for children around the world, it was a very real Catholic monk who was said to spend all his money on rescuing young persons from slavery or prostitution. He gave away his inherited wealth to help the poor and the sick. It is that St. Nick that sounds the most like the Christ, the first six letters of the word Christmas.

 

May we all display the true meaning and character of this Christ by serving others, giving gifts of meaning and remembering the needy around the world. Nine hundred years before the Son of God came to earth and was born in a manger, the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, scribed these words:

 

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel [God with us]. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 7:14 and 9: 6)

 

(Note: Much of the history above is taken from History.com)

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Just for fun

There’s a Fast-Food Place You’ve Got to Try!

My wife and I get to the west coast of the U.S. at times and when we do…I have a confession to make.

 

We do love a hot, unique at times, different and fresh meal.  But every chance we get, we’ll request or gravitate toward a place called In-N-Out Burger.  It’s fresh, it’s hot, it’s clean, it’s friendly and it’s fast-food at its best! Real milkshakes, real fries, real burgers with very few menu options

 

My wife goes for the “protein burger” and I go for the “Double-Double.”  That’s 100% of double the meat and double the cheese. Harry and Esther Snyder started this California craze in 1948.  Not until the 1970’s did they start to expand and today there are around 250 restaurants as far east as Texas.   The current owner is Lynsi Snyder, the Snyders’ only grandchild.

 

 

But it was Harry and Esther’s son, Rich, who did something unique, something a bit subtle and yet awesome.  Rich was a devoted born-again Christian; it was Rich who decided to add the Bible verses to the chain’s cups and burger wrappers. “Hamburgers are so popular,” his pastor at the Calvary Chapel explained. He thought it was a great way to, “Awaken people to the fact that the Bible is relevant and has the answers for today’s problems.”

 

On every burger wrapper, on every French fry box and on every beverage cup there is a scripture from the word of God.  Yep, Harry and Esther’s son, Rich, is still getting God’s word out to every customer who comes through the door even though he was killed in a plane crash many years ago.

 

Not my usual blog post, but I do love a good burger.  So, if you’re ever near an In-N-Out Burger restaurant, it’s one great fast-food meal.  Make it a date night with your bride!

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Issues of the Day, Just for fun

13 Things to Consider when Purchasing Your Next Car

Here’s a really practical, tip-filled article to help you with your next car purchase (pass it along to your friends). In 1996 I helped to start a car business with a friend and I have been purchasing cars for people ever since.  I love providing this service and am amazed at what people do not know when it comes to a car purchase.  Maybe you have something to add to the list, feel free to comment.

 

  1.  Look for or find an honest licensed car dealer who also does custom orders/purchases directly from dealer-only auctions.  They can find what you desire and not have to necessarily run it through the expensive prep of their retail lot. It is a more direct/custom purchase.

 

  1. Cars do lose value; we all know that.  But there are brands that lose less value.  For example, the number one selling car in the world is a Toyota Corolla.  This car will maintain a relatively decent value.  Honda’s are similar.  You want to go luxury?  Try Lexus or Acura, they will not lose their value nearly as quickly as say, a BMW or Audi.

 

  1. Save cash for your car. Cash purchasers almost always make better deals. But, if you absolutely have to loan money, find a credit union.  Locally we have credit unions with interest rates of 1.49% for used cars.

 

  1. Buy used from a dealer who can also repair your car.  They will normally stand behind the sale.  That said, stay away from the TV guy who says, “Buy here, pay here, even if you have no job.”  That dealer will be charging you an exorbitant interest rate.

 

  1. Another idea.  Locate a “wholesaler.”  This is a person who purchases used trade-ins from large dealerships and who prepares them for wholesale, dealer only auctions.  Now before anyone rejects auctions as the place for “junk,” please understand that every dealer you know uses them.  It is how the used car business operates today.  Most every retired rental car and post lease car heads to auction to be sold to the highest bidder.

 

  1. Find a dealer who still has a “90-day unit.”  Most large volume dealers will send their 90-day units to the auction to sell. If they do not, it looks like they are not selling/moving cars.  They will pick up new cars at the auction(s) while they are also selling these units.  The dealer would rather sell to Joe Public at a discounted rate because at auction they will often lose money on the vehicle.

 

  1. Negotiate a price.  If the deal is a non-negotiable offer, be sure to check on floor mats and the most recent state inspection.  While you’re at it, ask for the “dealer fee” to be dropped or renegotiate it.

 

  1. DO NOT blindly trust Carfax or similar Internet reports.  I have seen cars at auction that have had serious repairs while the Carfax states the car is “accident free.”  Someone with a good eye, a body shop guy, a really good mechanic can tell if the car was in an accident.  There will almost always be paint indicators of such work.  By the way, it is really difficult today to find a used car that has not had some kind of fender bender, but I look for that car that was hit in the rear or the backside vs. the front.

 

  1. Talk to people; they are your best resource.  Find that gently used car that belonged to someone’s grandma who no longer drives.  You can also find these cars at estate sales.  It is not a surefire deal, but at least you know if the car was maintained properly or not.

 

  1. Before trading your car, go to KBB.com and check the “trade-in” price.  It will give you an index to work with.  I tell most people, don’t trade your car, sell it outright and you will most likely do better without a trade.

 

  1. The very best time to purchase a car is at the end of the year, the last three weeks of December.  The second best time is at the end of a quarter and the third best time is at the end of the month.  These are times where dealers are doing everything they can to sell greater inventory in order to post higher sales numbers.

 

  1. Pray.  Ask God.  Be patient and be in agreement if you’re married.  Wait for the best deal, there are tons of cars out there.

 

  1. And lastly, avoid “in season” purchases.  What does that mean?  If your part of the country is approaching winter, it is THE WORST time to buy a four-wheel drive.  Purchase those coming out of winter when dealers are attempting to dump them.  If it’s vacation time, hold off on that new van, everybody wants one in that season and it drives the market price up.

There you have it. I hope these practical words of advice help you in your next vehicle purchase. Happy shopping!

Bonus: Often persons ask me about “flood cars.” These cars are not allowed to be sold at dealer auctions, but if they slip through be sure to ask the dealer where the car was last titled (its life history). Then do the smell test. A car that was detailed after a flood condition will always smell moist or stale (sour). If the car is sitting in the sun (and it should be), moisture might gather on parts of the window glass — another indicator. Cars can recover from floods, but if the total interior is not removed (including the complete dash unit) and cleaned, the stench will remain. If you suspect something is wrong, you can request that the dealership remove an interior door panel to look for signs of water damage.

 

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Just for fun, Marriage, Postmarital, Premarital, Singles

Fifteen Really Cheap or Free Dates

images-6Running out of ideas for inexpensive, but fun date nights? It’s time to celebrate your Valentine, so here are a few ideas, many that my wife and I have enjoyed over the years:

1. Visit an open house or a new model home for creative decorating and renovating ideas.

2. Try a new hiking or biking trail in your area.

3. Rent a Red Box movie or download a free movie.

4. Visit several local thrift stores or a flea market and enjoy some bargain hunting.

5. Go on a coffee, tea or ice-cream date.

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6. Is there indoor ice-skating in your area? If not, try bowling.

7. Take some back country roads you’ve never driven on and see where you end up.  Keep the conversation going while you enjoy the drive.

8. Try a new museum or art gallery. Look for tours you haven’t been on in your locale.

9. Visit your favorite wing night restaurant.

10. Take advantage of free music concerts at local parks.

11. Cook together or create a new dessert.images-7

12. Go on a scenic photo shoot and take some selfies. Then, post them on-line or on Facebook and ask your friends to guess where the pictures were taken.

13. If you’re near your home area, take your spouse to a favorite childhood spot.

14. Watch a really old movie you love or never viewed before.images-4

15. Take a night walk. Be sure to use a reflective vest and carry a flashlight.

Bonus date: Dig out your old photo albums, sit on the couch and laugh!  Send us your ideas.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you!

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Issues of the Day, Just for fun

Here’s To Social Media Posts, Yours and Mine

images-2Facebook and social media in general have seemingly taken over our lives in some good and some not so good ways. What follows are a few ways in which I wish Facebook posts didn’t exist; posts I’d rather not read.

  • Pictures of what you are making or eating for dinner.
  • How boring your day was and how you feel at the moment.
  • Pictures of your family pet doing absolutely nothing.
  • Political articles or posts that are caustic, often falsely reported or of no literal value when it comes to making conscientious political decisions.
  • You or others working out at the gym.
  • Constant pictures of your new hairstyle, clothing or latest tattoo.
  • Off color jokes and the like.
  • Half dressed persons doing half-baked, questionable activities.
  • Reposting posts that you have not fact checked or checked the background on as to whether or not they are even true.  (Suggestion, check: snopes.com first)
  • Your latest practical joke that is almost criminal.

Why? Remember who you reflect and who you represent.  If you do not police your own posts, the only “friends” and “followers” you’re ever going to have might be stalkers, psychologists, your employer or potential employer and/or the police. Most assuredly they won’t give you a “like.”images

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